Friday, January 29, 2016

JESUS POKES THE BEAR





Last week, I found in the lectionary (and I shared) the story of Jesus reading from scripture in his home synagogue. Our reading ended his reading as a cliff hanger - "These words are about me." Boy, O boy, is he going to be in for it! What chutzpa!

But like all good stories, timing, pace, and surprise are all critical. This week's lectionary reading repeats the climax from last week, and then follows it up with an unexpected reaction; they all were impressed by him! The Bible tells us that they were impressed because of (or even in spite of?) the fact that he was a local - Joseph's boy. Suddenly, Jesus goes on the attack. Why? They were complimenting him!

"I know what you're going to say next: 'doctor, heal yourself'; and 'show us some of the tricks that you've done elsewhere.'" Did Luke leave something out of his narration? Was Jesus testy that day and putting words into their mouths? What am I missing? Right after the elders in his hometown synagogue accept him, he tells them that no prophet is ever accepted in his hometown?

Then he pokes the bear: "People in our country were once suffering greatly during a great drought, but it was just to a poor alien/immigrant that God sent help through Elijah. Once upon a time, lepers roamed the land like zombies, but God used Elisha to heal only a foreigner." 

This preaching on inclusion and non-national-exceptionalism filled them with sudden rage. It was such a blind extremist hate that they tried to throw him off the cliff!

Why are we often at our worst when we are asked to treat others well?

(from Luke 4)

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